Things are about to get messy in Cleveland. According to multiple reports, disgruntled Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has officially requested a trade. The Browns publicly flirted with acquiring Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in a move that seemingly upset Mayfield. Their courting of Watson led Mayfield to share an emotional and difficult note via social media earlier this week. The Browns allegedly swung-and-missed on their attempt to lure Watson to Cleveland and Mayfield reportedly feels that the relationship between the two sides is irreparable due to Cleveland’s short-lived efforts to replace him.
Per Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns don’t plan to honor Mayfield’s request, and it’s easy to understand why they may decide to play hardball with their former No. 1 overall selection. Case Keenum is the only other quarterback on the roster besides Mayfield, and few signal-callers remain available via trade or free agency that could adequately replace what Mayfield brings to the table. The 2022 NFL Draft qualifies as an alternative option, but the Browns are in “win-now” mode and may not have an interest in hitting the reset button by moving forward with a rookie quarterback. The Browns possess an interest in retaining Mayfield, but forcing a player to remain on your roster rarely works out well for all parties involved.
This situation is just beginning to heat up. We’ve swiftly identified three teams that could trade for Mayfield.
According to a report from Josina Anderson, the Seahawks have quickly emerged as a potential landing spot for Mayfield. Seattle has an obvious need at the quarterback position after trading away Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos in a blockbuster deal that netted the Seahawks several immediate and future draft selections, along with a trio of veteran players. The Seahawks received Broncos quarterback Drew Lock as a part of that package, but Seattle would be ill-advised to simply hand Lock the starting job without exploring other avenues. Jacob Eason is currently the only other quarterback on the roster, as veteran backup Geno Smith is an unrestricted free agent. More is clearly required here.
General manager John Schneider is mercilessly embracing a rebuild period in the wake of the Wilson trade, but Seattle’s roster still possesses some high-level offensive playmakers such as D.K. Metcalf, Chris Carson, and Tyler Lockett. Allowing these talents to waste away by not truly vetting potential upgrades at the quarterback position would be an unjust shame. Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll should strongly consider acquiring Mayfield. They have the draft capital and salary cap space to aggressively pursue Mayfield’s services via trade.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard is going to make a move at the quarterback position following the trade that sent Carson Wentz to Washington. That much is obvious, and a new candidate has now emerged in Mayfield. Indianapolis’ difficult quarterbacking situation will be solved shortly, and plenty of options remain on the table including Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Jimmy Garoppolo, and even Matt Ryan.
Mayfield should qualify as an extremely intriguing option for a Colts franchise that possesses an excellent roster outside of quarterback. Ballard and head coach Frank Reich have built their team in a manner where a game-managing quarterback could possibly lead the Colts to 10-plus victories and a postseason berth.
Indianapolis’ offense will likely run through superstar running back Jonathan Taylor regardless of who takes snaps under center, and the Pro Bowl ball-carrier is worthy of building an offense around. Mayfield has experienced success in a similar situation by helping spearhead an offense that leaned on a two-headed rushing attack with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield. Mayfield led the Browns to the playoffs while understanding how to play within that system, and he could possibly do it again in Indianapolis.
The Panthers rolled out the red carpet and applied the full-court press in hopes of luring Watson to Charlotte, but certain recent reports have indicated the Panthers are no longer considered legitimate contenders to secure Watson’s services. New Orelans and Atlanta seem to be the favorites on that front.
Team owner David Tepper is one of the more aggressive, forward-thinking owners in the NFL and Tepper has made his intentions clear to acquire a quarterback that’s better suited to lead the Panthers forward. Sam Darnold ultimately disappointed in that role a year ago and the Panthers seem hopeful of securing an upgrade.
Mayfield is no Watson, but Carolina may not have a choice but to consider consolation prizes. Mayfield is a better quarterback than Darnold at the end of the day. Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer has spent the early portion of the offseason attempting to improve Carolina’s offense. Fitterer has already made several shrewd free-agent signings including guard Austin Corbett, wide receiver Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins, and running back D’Onta Foreman.
It’s time for the Panthers to become even more aggressive and land a quarterback. The Panthers should possess an abundance of interest in acquiring Mayfield via trade.